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Premier League Weekend Preview: Two-horse race?

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For all the talk about this year being a wide open title race, we’re just two weeks into the new Premier League season and this may already be a two-horse race. It’s only been two weeks but so far Manchester City and Manchester United look to be in a class above the rest. Will it continue that way? It’s still early, so it’s hard to say. Teams haven’t finished their transfer business and many still haven’t gotten their best players fully back from their midseason tournaments. We’ll know a lot more about everyone in a months time.

(All times eastern)

Tottenham vs. Liverpool (7:30 AM Saturday NBCSN) 

The big questions to answer in this one are which Liverpool shows up and is Tottenham ready to play? I’ve always said I can’t take Liverpool seriously until they show me some kind of consistency and following a 4-3 win over Arsenal with a 2-0 loss to Burnley is exactly the type of inconsistency that plagued them last season. Tottenham are one of those teams that are a lot better than the way they’re playing simply because they had no preseason. The combination of most of their players playing for England and their preseason tour being in Australia meant that Spurs left most of their first team at home. Therefore it’s taking a while for them to realize their potential.

Spurs defense is good enough to keep Liverpool off the board and they’ll be able to take advantage of the Reds lack of defense. Tottenham win 1-0 

Chelsea vs. Burnley (10:00 AM Saturday NBCSN)

Another week, another Diego Costa winner for Chelsea when he shouldn’t have been on the field. The Premier League keeps putting in anti-Diego Costa laws and somehow Costa is still escaping punishment for all of them. When will a ref finally show Costa a red card. Meanwhile all this is masking the fact that Chelsea have been very poor this year; four of their six points are completely undeserved. Burnley will be riding high coming off their win over Liverpool. But Burnley aren’t come-into-Stamford-Bridge-and-win good, they’re come-into-Stamford-Bridge-and-limit-the-damage good. Chelsea win 1-0

Watford vs. Arsenal (10:00 AM Saturday PLET)

Is what’s going on with Arsenal really a surprise? Remember, even though they finished second last year, the 71 points they picked up would usually only be good enough for around fourth. They then failed to address any of their needs in the transfer market and started the season without any of their senior center backs fit. They’re already getting bit by the injury bug because they’re Arsenal, and suddenly after two weeks they’re already five points off the pace. They welcome back Mesut Ozil this week, but beware, post international tournament Mesut Ozil is not a good Mesut Ozil.

Hull City vs. Manchester United (12:30 PM Saturday NBC)

What a difference a good central midfielder makes. Paul Pogba’s return to Manchester United has provided them a presence in the midfield the team hasn’t seen since Paul Scholes was playing. While United look a lot better than they did last year, they’re still creating scoring chances at the same rate they did last year, which was one of the worst in the league. They just look more exciting doing it. They’ll need to improve on that, but they will. Last week against Southampton they were very good but it was obvious that they aren’t even close to firing on all cylinders yet. When Pogba gets used to the rest of the team this team is going to be scary good.

Hull have gotten off to a good start and will be energized as caretaker manager Mike Phelan takes on his former club. They’ll be organized enough to make it difficult for United to score. Again, scoring chances are still coming at a premium for United, the difference is this year they actually put them away. They’ll get their breakthrough before Mourinho makes them sit back in a shell to kill off the game. Manchester United win 1-0

West Ham vs. Manchester City (11:00 AM Sunday NBCSN)

The other scary good team. If everyone isn’t careful the two Manchester clubs could very quickly turn this season into a two horse race. Pep Guardiola vs. Jose Mourinho. Just how everyone drew it up. Like United, City have tremendous depth in the attacking positions but are a little more frail at the back.

West Ham have yet to really get off the ground this year and have already been hit with the injury bug. They’ll get going eventually but it will be very hard to start that against an already firing on all cylinders Manchester City. Manchester City win 3-0

Rest of the games

Crystal Palace and Bournemouth both have to be looking at this game as one that could be huge in the latter half of the season. Both need the game to jump start their season but the spoils will be split in a 1-1 draw. 

What has happened with Stoke City? It’s not that they only have one point through two games, that’s not terrible, it’s that they’ve looked terrible. Can they put it together against Everton. The Toffees got the win last week but haven’t convinced me they can defend yet. Goals will be scored in this 2-2 draw. 

Leicester City got a very favorable draw to progress in the Champions League. Now they need to right their domestic form. A 2-0 win over a not great Swansea side will get them going.

Sunderland losing to Middlesbrough isn’t so shocking when you remember Boro will likely safely stay up this year while Sunderland will be in a relegation fight. Southampton were outclassed by United last week even though they had most of the possession. These are the types of games where David Moyes finds a way to get points with a 1-1 draw. 

What can you expect when a team like Middlesbrough visit West Brom? Simple for West Brom to dirty up the game and make it impossible for the better team to get the win. It’s yet another 1-1 draw in yet another very forgettable West Brom match.

Premier League Weekend Preview: Two-horse race?

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